Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coals to Newcastle - via Mongolia

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There is a very thin line between funding genuinely useful development projects and those that are established merely to spend money. I suspect the recently announce tender by the MCC in Washington is the latter.

Training of Herders and State Officials in Pasture Land Management in Mongolia

The original Mongol or proto-Mongol people, composed of a myriad of periodically warring tribes, were first chronicled around 200 BC. They were – you guessed it – nomads and herders living off various pastures in the regions now known as Mongolia and Inner Mongolia (part of China) and were similar to the other nomadic groups further to the west in Central Asia.

Mongol society, however, threw up one of the greatest military forces in history which, under Genghis Khan forged an empire stretching from Hungary to Korea and from Russia to modern day Iran and China. They were herders, among other things, and developed one of the most sophisticated legal and administrative systems the world has ever seen. It included rules on land management and animal husbandry.

The unified Mongol Empire began in earnest about 800 years ago and came to an end only recently – perhaps 600 years ago – breaking up into family khanates. Marco Polo visited the largest and wealthiest group in a China ruled by Kubilai Khan. Perhaps you’ve heard of this.

I am sure, in searching for the best project team, the key members will be required to have at least five to ten years experience in pasture maintenance and herding, preferably in Central Asia and they will intensely and sincerely instruct the modern day Mongols on both.

US taxpayers would probably be interested to know how their money is being disbursed. But, then, maybe not.

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1 comment:

Christopher and Beverly said...

This is actually a potentially useful project. During the socialist era, herding and agricultural practices were completely revised with forced collectivization and centralized decision making policies. There was also a great effort to industrialize the country and dissuade people from nomadic herding practices.

Since the 1990s the sector has been privatized completely. State support for herders has disappeared and there has been an increase in the number of herders - many of whom have little or no practical experience. As a result, there is wide-spread economic and food insecurity in the country and there steppe is being badly managed.

This project is presumably an attempt to address that issue. How well it will work, of course, depends on implementation. But it's a lot more complex than your short and snide post suggests.